Paprika -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • MSRP: 26.96
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Paprika


By Jennifer Rocks     March 04, 2008
Release Date: November 27, 2007

© Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

What They Say
A group of brilliant scientists have developed a form of psychotherapy with the invention of a machine which enables a person to enter another's dreams. When the device is stolen by a “dream terrorist, it is up to Atsuko Chiba, a scientist under the code name PAPRIKA, to track down the apparatus and save the world from madness.

The Review!
Satoshi Kon explores the weird and wonderful space of dreams – how can we not go along for the ride?

For this review, I primarily watched the movie in English. The 5.1 mix is really fantastic, with lots of dynamic action moving between the speakers. The dialogue tracks, both Japanese and English, are crisp, clear and issue free. There are a host of different audio tracks to choose from, Japanese 5.1, English 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround, and French 5.1, as well as English, Spanish, and French subtitles.

Both the English and Japanese cast are very strong, though there are definite differences in the interpretation of Paprika and Chiba. The original voice actress, Megumi Hayashibara, uses more subtle tones to differentiate between Paprika and Chiba, where the English actress, Cindy Robinson, uses two very distinct voices that have little resemblance to one another.

Paprika is an explosion of colors, and their solidity and vibrancy are well captured. There is a small amount of compression artifacting, but it is really negligible. The movie really is fantastic looking, and is well represented in this transfer.

The cover image is very chaotic and a bit hard to look at. It is a close up on Paprika’s face, but rather than a solid skin tone, you look through her to see the dream parade and other elements of the dream world. A similar but more successful image is used on the disc itself, with the top half of Paprika’s face looking at you, with the top of her head fading into the dream parade.

The dream parade from the cover spills onto the back of the package, where Paprika appears in the upper left-hand corner in her Monkey King guise. The cloud she rides contains the text explaining the movie. The back cover also features some quotes about the film, a list of the special features, the film credits, as well as the technical specs.

The menu loads for the first time with Paprika floating against the blue sky, as she approaches she is slowly surrounded by the dream parade. The main menu is an animated dream parade that bobbles as if marching and is accompanied by the parade theme music. The ancillary menus are all still images from the dream world and do not have any music.

There are some nice extras included with the film, including a making of documentary that explores the process behind turning Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel into a film. The Conversation About the “Dream” is a really neat discussion between director Satoshi Kon, original author Yasutaka Tsutusui, Megumi Hayashibara the voice of Paprika and Chiba, and Toru Furuya the voice of Tokita, in which the four discuss not only the dreams within the film, but also their own dreams. The Dream of the CG World is a making of with CGI Director Michiya Kato showing how seamlessly the CG blends into the animation. The Art of Fantasy is another makings with art director Nobutaka Ike, where we see how much detailed work was put into making the dream world fantastic and the reality world as real as possible. And to top it all off, there is also filmmaker commentary with Satoshi Kon, music director Susumu Hirasawa, and associate producer Morishima.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Dr. Atsuko Chiba is part of an elite psychotherapy team, who has begun using the revolutionary new therapy tool, the DC mini. This tool allows the user to enter the unconscious mind of the patient and explore their dreams as a means of treatment. Chiba is the most skilled with the DC mini and enters the dream world as her alter ego Paprika.

Chiba has begun using the DC mini to offer treatment to people outside of work, and when the movie opens we see her treating Detective Konakawa, who is plagued by a recurring dream related to a case he is working on. Though the treatment of the Detective is not officially sanctioned, she has the backing of the creator of the DC mini, Dr. Kosaku Tokita, and the director of the department, Dr. Torataro Shima. They assist Chiba in keeping not only the illicit treatments under wraps, but also her dream world persona of Paprika.

The fate of the project gets thrown into doubt when it is discovered that several DC minis have been stolen and are being used by a dream terrorist to join all dreams into one large dream. Director Shima is pulled into the merged dream world, which is symbolized by a chaotic parade full of all manner of objects from dancing frogs to television sets culminating in a pavilion full of dolls. Chiba immediately enters the dream as Paprika to save Shima, when she encounters a strange doll that seems to be an avatar for the dream terrorist. She is able to save Dr. Shima, but things seem much more perilous then she had realized. Other members of the staff fall victim to the shared dream, and when it appears that Tokita’s assistant is behind the dream terrorism, the Chairman of the company completely bans the use of the DC mini.

Chiba, Tokita, and their colleague, Dr. Osanai, begin looking into why Tokita’s assistant would steal the DC minis and what his goal is. As they investigate, things grow darker as Tokita is drawn into the shared dream, and the lines between the dream world and reality begin to blur. Detective Konakawa, Shima and Chiba/Paprika work together to face the true terrorist of the dream world. Chiba ultimately has to confront not only the terrorist, but also herself, and it is only when Chiba and Paprika merge into one person that she is able to fully master the dream world.

There are many story threads to follow in the movie and for the most part they are resolved at the end. The story is so complex, that there isn’t quite a strong enough sense of everything tying neatly together to feel like a full resolution. But the ideas presented are very intriguing and so well realized visually that any shortcomings are easy to forgive. It’s also worth pointing out that the music throughout the film is really fantastic, striking just the right balance between drama and quirkiness. The opening credit sequence in particular, with its excellent musical theme and brilliant animation, is one of the highlights of the film.

In Summary:
Though the various story threads don’t tie together as well as they could, the overall story is very interesting and entertaining. From a sheer visual standpoint, this is a film that shouldn’t be missed. Once you layer in Satoshi Kon’s sensibilities and aesthetic, this is a definite must see, even if you are a little confused about what it all means once the credits roll.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,Spanish 2.0 Language,French 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Spanish Subtitles,French Subtitles,Tsutsui and Kon's Paprika�: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Paprika with novelist Yasutaka Tsutsui and director Satoshi Kon
, “A Conversation about "The Dream"�: Director Satoshi Kon, novelist Yasutaka Tsutsui, and voice actors Megumi Hayashibara and Toru Furuya talk about production of Paprika
,"The Art of Fantasy": A look at the art direction with Art Director Nobutaka Ike
,"The Dream CG World"; A look at the cinematography and computer-generated world of Paprika with cinematographer Michiya Kato

Review Equipment
Samsung HLT6187S 61” DLP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI, Pioneer Elite VSX-81TXV DD/DTS receiver, JBL Multi-Channel Speaker System with 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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